Eau Claire Lakes, Wisconsin, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Wisconsin - Lake Superior Northwoods Region -

Also known as:  Upper Eau Claire Lake, Middle Eau Claire Lake, Lower Eau Claire Lake

Among Wisconsin’s more than 15,000 lakes is the Eau Claire Lakes Chain, made up of three larger lakes and eight spring-fed smaller ponds. The Chain including the largest of the 11, the Upper Eau Claire, Middle Eau Claire and Lower Eau Claire Lakes, rest in Bayfield and Douglas Counties in the Lake Superior Northwoods Tourism Region of Wisconsin. The Eau Claire Lakes Chain makes up the headwaters of the Eau Clair River which flows into the Saint Croix River at Gordon, Wisconsin.

The Upper Eau Claire, the largest in the chain at more than 1000 surface acres, is in the Town of Barnes in Bayfield County. It reaches depths of up to 90 feet. The Upper Eau Claire has six satellite lakes: Robinson, Birch, Sweet, Shunenberg, Smith and Devils. The Federal Government and Bayfield County built hand-operated locks between the connecting channels and waterways in the late 1930s. The Town of Barnes now maintains the locks which are among the few hand-operated locks in the United States. Scenic boat trips down the tree-lined waterways are a popular pastime. A public boat ramp are available for anglers looking to score the big catch or folks who just enjoy a spending the day on the water. Vacation homes or rustic cabins are available to visitors of the Upper Eau Claire Lake. If you would like to relocate the real estate market has a number of opportunities.

The Middle Eau Claire Lake is the chain’s second largest lake. It spans 900 surface acres and has 11 miles of shoreline open for fishing, vacation homes or permanent residences. Bony Lake is the satellite lake of the Middle Eau Claire. Public boat ramps are open at both lakes. All the lakes in the Eau Claire Chain boast a healthy population of fish. The Middle Eau Claire, 60 feet at its deepest, is no different.

The last of the big three is the Lower Eau Claire Lake in Douglas County. The clear water lake is 40 feet at it deepest and offers eight miles of shoreline. The 800 acre Lower Eau Clair Lake has one satellite lake, Cranberry. These two lakes complete the chain. There are roughly 14 resorts dotting the landscape surrounding the lakes in the Eau Clair Chain. No matter what the season there is something to do.

Eau Claire is French for clear water. The Eau Claire Lakes Chain definitely lives up to its name and offers wonderful fishing for novice and professional angers alike. Spring and fall are good times to head to the water for muskellunge, northern and walleye pike, small and largemouth bass. Crappies, bluegills, sunfish, and perch also swim the waters of the Eau Claire Lakes. Numerous streams provide good opportunities to reel in trout.

The lakes are surrounded by lush forests made up of large Jack, white and Norway spruce, balsam pines and a mix of other hardwoods. These woods are home to bald eagles, bear, deer, ducks, fox, loons, wolves as well as a number of smaller birds and animals. The forest canopy, abundant wildlife, and lake views make a perfect setting for hikes. The fall colors peak in late September/early October adding the brilliance of bright yellows, oranges and reds. In the winter, snow weighs heavily on the pines and coats the branches of the deciduous trees. Bundle up for a peaceful trek.

Douglas County has 300 miles of groomed trails and Bayfield County has almost 500 miles. Whether you visit in winter, spring, summer or fall there is something to do. Check with the counties to find trails for snowmobiling, ATVs, or horseback riding. Cold weather fans will find ample opportunities for skiing, both downhill and cross country. The Apostle Island Dog Sled race is also a popular attraction in the winter months in nearby Bayfield.

In the warmer months Bayfield and Douglas Counties become fruit picking country. Check out the tourism Web sites for berry picking farms and apple orchards. You can take a break from the placid waters of the lakes to fill a basket of just about any berry you can name. In the summer months there are cherries, strawberries and blackberries just to name a few. Festivals in late September and early October hail the harvest of some of the best apples in the U.S.

Northern Wisconsin also has a rich history from its early days as a powerhouse in the logging industry to documenting the influence of Lake Superior and the thousands of other waterways in the state. The Bayfield Heritage Center takes visitors back to the area’s early settlements highlighting early logging operations and the everyday way of life. The PureAir Sanatorium, a tuberculosis treatment center for many years, is open to tourists as well. Shipwrecks, lighthouses, and marine equipment are the focus of the Bayfield Maritime Museum. If you are feeling adventurous, head to La Pointe, Wisconsin, and the Madeline Island Museum. Visit the museum to discover why Native Americans, fur traders and summer travelers have been coming to the island for more than three centuries.

The brilliance of the fall colors, the peacefulness of a walk through woods laden with winter snow, the glory of spring wildflowers or a refreshing dip in the cool waters on a summer day; the crystal clear waters of the Eau Claire Lakes Chain make a wonderful destination no matter what the season.

Things to do at Eau Claire Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dog Sledding
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum

Fish species found at Eau Claire Lakes

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Eau Claire Lakes Photo Gallery

    Eau Claire Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 3,482 acres

    Shoreline Length: 45 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,119 feet

    Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

    Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,132 feet

    Maximum Depth: 90 feet

    Trophic State: Meso-oligotrophic

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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